Leadership program open for freshmen, sophomores

Ashten Haswell

One focus will be teaching students about social change

Students now have the opportunity to advance their knowledge about leadership through a new program.

The Center for Student Involvement is offering a program this year called Emerging Leader. According to the program’s syllabus, its purpose is to “help students new to the concept of being a leader learn and develop/enhance their personal leadership skills.”

“Over the past year we have had a leadership task force, which has come together to discuss the possible leadership activities that are at Kent State,” said Amanda Stewart, graduate student for leadership development. “Then they searched what happens at other universities and have taken that together and decided what would work best here.”

In previous years, Kent State has had a series of workshops for student leaders, but they weren’t well attended.

Stewart and Brenda McKenzie, associate director for the Center for Student Involvement, formed the Emerging Leader program in an effort to expand the concept of leadership. The program here at Kent State has been created for primarily freshmen and sophomores and is designed for students to learn who they are.

“It was designed to develop a group of students to become more familiar with who they can be as leaders and have more of a plan for how they want to be leaders on our campus for the remainder of their time here and beyond Kent State,” McKenzie said.

McKenzie said the program isn’t part of a class; it is a certificate program and is a yearlong commitment.

Students must apply for the program at the beginning of fall semester and have a minimum 2.25 GPA. The program can accept up to thirty students; however, this year being the first year, the program only has 10 students.

One night a week for seven weeks each semester, the students will attend meetings to discuss various topics. Some of these topics are the concepts of leadership, the styles of leadership, stress and time management skills, communication skills, team building exercises, values and ethics.

Another focus of the program is to get the students familiar with the social change model.

“The social change model is based on the concept that leadership is for everyone, not just for those who hold organizational leadership positions, and leadership can be learned by everyone,” Stewart said. “Leadership is a process versus a position.”

Stewart said the social change model promotes equity, social justice, citizenship, service and collaboration.

“It’s based on seven critical values, which are consciousness of self, congruence, commitment, collaboration, common purpose, controversy with stability and citizenship,” Stewart said. “All of these are supposed to work together to create change, with change being the eighth value.”

Besides attending all meetings, students will be required to do several things throughout the year. The program is based on involvement and participation and is part of a learning process. As part of this process, students must write papers and personal journal entries reflecting on what they are learning, and students will have to meet with a program director, McKenzie or Stewart.

In addition, each week one student must lead the program in a discussion about a current local, state or national issue that he or she finds interesting. Lastly, students will have to create a resume or update a current one.

If a student fulfills these requirements, then he or she will be given a certificate out of the office of CSI saying he or she has completed the program.

Members of the Center for Student Involvement promoted the program early in the semester by distributing materials at various events during Week of Welcome. They also sent information to student groups, academic advisors, residence hall staff and the Freshman Advisory Council. It also was announced in the newsletter that went out to the First Year Experience classes.

To increase the awareness of the program, McKenzie said they will begin promoting the program sooner next year.

“Our goal would be to start promoting the program during the redesigned PASS program that will be happening next summer,” McKenzie said. “That way we start to outreach our incoming freshman sooner, before they get here.”

Contact student affairs reporter Ashten Haswell at [email protected].